Catnip is an herb related to mint. Like all mints, it has aromatic oils on the surface of its leaves. The magic of catnip comes from nepetalacone, one of the chemical constituents of its aromatic oil. When fragile membranes around the leaves are broken, the scent is released. A pleasure center in the cat's brain is triggered and they go into "cat happiness."
The primary chemical constituents of Catnip include essential oils (carvacrol, citronellal, geraniol, nepetol, nepetelactone, pulegone, thymol), iridoids, and tannins. It also contains iron, selenium, potassium, manganese, chromium, and moderate amounts of other minerals & vitamins. Catnip has soothing and relaxing effects on the digestive system, relieving diarrhea, flatulence, indigestion, upset stomach and headaches. Catnip contains antispasmodic properties that are ideal for treating abdominal and menstrual cramping, as well as chronic coughing. Excellent in reducing fevers, Catnip is also good for alleviating sleeplessness and insomnia. Catnip's antibiotic and astringent properties are also beneficial for treating colds and bronchial infections. This herb also has many topical application - as a bath herb for stress, colic and teething; as a compress or poultice for pain, sprains, bruises and insect bites; as a poultice for toothache; and as a hair rinse for scalp irritations. Other uses include Catnip as a liniment for arthritis & rheumatism; as an eyewash for inflammation, allergies and bloodshot eyes; as an enema to cleanse the colon; and as a salve for hemorrhoids.
Taken as a hot infusion, Catnip promotes sweating and is beneficial for colds, flus, fevers, and infectious childhood diseases. It is soothing to the nervous system and calming to the stomach. It aids with flatulence, diarrhea, and colic. It is sometimes used as an enema to cleanse and heal the lower bowel (use in diluted form). Catnip helps to prevent miscarriage and premature birth as well as allays morning sickness.